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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  October 16, 2011 6:15am-7:00am EDT

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american slavery" is his latest bohe he will be joining us to take your calls.
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here's eric foner. >> thalia you for that introduction. i am delighted to be here. wonderful for a writer to see people coming because of their love of bohe liousary of congress and everyoe who organizes this festival. we wdrl hg. take a few. everyone knows abraham lincoed is the most iconic figure in american history. there are 10,000 boo rem on aous 2am lincoed t of one kind another. there are tves iee hollywood moo sto four that the there were jut made or in the works.
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the conspiratorir ust came out. steven spielberg is doing the film about lincoed t. liainoln the va ba the way. there is an old adage that ther is no prodyour cat on earth who sales can't be increased by associating with aous 2am liainoln. i am glad to see james a drlington of the library congress appreciate this because lincoln is on the front page for this festiir urd one thing that is remarkable about lincoln is he was self e ycated by readinn tou he had one year of formal schooling in his entire life. makesiniou wonder if my job is even necessary, teaching. lincoed t learned by readinn tou
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he was a voracious reader as a youth and adut c. he read everything he could get his hands on. he was not a deeply religious man but he read the bn't ble an new the bible and debate it with ãcf1 o abinisteeven . he new economics and politics through reading. there's a lesson in at at this festiir urd why did i feel like wanted to write another book about liainoln? i tend to write books when i get not aofeoyed butn'tnhappy with e current state of literature and over the past decade as bohe get bored out about lincoed t i 2009 when we had the l bcentennial of lincoed t's bi many of those are wonderful books. i am not here as a 3 sitic of
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what one reviewer called the lincoln industrial complex but there has been a tendeainytl- those are too introverted. self referential. in other wort lincoln just study lincoln. want togannoyoutwhy lincoed t d something as president you look at his law career. fou want to ainsow wte i he he certain views about slavery you study his early readings. the water world has a way of slipping out of view and too arlch literature on lincoed ttl wanted to put lincoln in the historical contemil. this is not a biogry dte i of lincoln. there are many of them. it isolates this question but it is a question about slavery and liainoln's relationship to slavery and changing attitudes
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and policies regarding slavery across the coueven e of his car. i want to situate lincoln in the history of what charles s muner called the anti slavery enterprise. i like that term because enterprise is not an organization. is not tir sten it. it is a conodyomeration of peope working sometimes disagreeing with each other but working for a general end. involved radical abolitionists who demanded the irepediate freeing of the slaves and bringing them in as equal citi 1ns of american society. included others who wanted a gradual asedroach taking many decades including monetary compensation for loss of edroperty and people who th
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the solution was to encourage aduack people to leg. counwany. slaves should be freed but sent to africa or central america or other places. lincoln occupied different places on this specwan mu. the theme of my book is lincoln's change over time. this is the hallmark of his greatness. too many people take one speech of lincoed t and s a this is the essential link in. the hallmark of his greatness was his cy dacity for growth. he occupied different position than the end of his lvese on questions of slavery and related question of race and race relations than he outiwas ied earlier in his career. lincoln had a complex
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relationmonip with these radica abolitionists who worked to coviince public opinion on the evils of slavery and radical republicans who were abolitionist but working within the political system. he was not an abolitionist and never claiked to be an abolitionist but this was an enterprise he monared with them. in one speech lincoln said every schoolboy knows the name wdrberforce and shark. the leaders of the british movement in the 79s to abolish the slave trade from africa. not slavery itself but selling of y dtg. world. every schoolboy knows the name of wi o terforce and shayoutbut who can name one man who oppose them? lincoed t saw history going in
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certain direction toward eventually abolition of y dtg. he wasn't part of the most radical edge. liainoln was a politician tves iour sout his life. he ran for office at the age of 22 and from then on he was in office or running for office most of his lvese for a little ederiod in the 1850t buwhen voted himself to his law career. i mention that because i monouldn't say this in this cit but today politicians are held in low esteem in this country. if you look at gallup polls in ranking politicians as outiwas ation is slightly above wall street bankers but lincoed was a politiciao p
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he was a member of the whig party in the first part of his career in illin. ns. in the first twenty years of his career he said little about y dtg. .. sometimes his language is quite similar to that of abolitionists. all slavery a monstrous injustice. he prefers -- refers to it as a cancer on the body of american
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politics. he absolutely insists that slavery must be prevented from expanding westward. the issue in the 1850's was not the abolition of slavery perce, but whether slavery should be allowed to expand westward into the territories beyond the mississippi river. lincoln condemned slavery on many grounds, as economic, moral, political, but altman -- alternately lincoln spoke about slavery, you might say, as a form of theft. that the theft of labor, every person he insisted, had a right to enjoy the fruits of his or her labor. slavery stole labor of one person and then appropriated it to another. this is not really a racial argument in any way. everybody is as an actual right to enjoy the fruits of their labor. that is so he understood the wonderful wording of the declaration of independence from
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a life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. the pursuit of happiness and the ability or the opportunity to rise on the social scale and improve your condition in life, as lincoln, himself, of course, had done coming from very humble origins in his youth. and he felt that that opportunity existed in the north. that was the civilian difference between free society and slave society. society blocked off the path of opportunity, the path of improvement. obviously for slaves there was no hope of improvement in the condition of their lives, but even many white people of the south, he felt, were sort of kept in a degraded positioned because of slavery. well, with this language condemning slavery, why wasn't lincoln an abolitionist? why didn't he demand the immediate abolition of slavery? because lincoln had other commitments as well which were
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equally important to him. lincoln was a lawyer, a deep believer in the constitution. a believer in a sort of sense which we still hear a lot about today. of course american mission parity, the united states the last best hope of man. in other words, he held this view that the united states was a symbol of democracy to the world, that we exemplified the superiority of free institutions in a world still overrun by monarchy and aristocracies and tyrannies. the role of the united states, the mission of the united states was to demonstrate that democratic institutions were superior, and that is, of course, when he said the gates burger dress, the point of the war is to preserve government of the people, by the people. democracy. so there is -- this paulsen into
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a different directions. on the one hand slavery is a contradiction to that. slavery makes us into hypocrites. we talk about freedom, we talk about liberty, democracy, and yet 4 million people in this country by 1860 are denied those basic rights of self-government, liberty, and it makes people around the world condemns us for not even believing in our own professed values. on the other hand, lincoln says, we cannot let the american nation sunder, let it fall apart. because of the nation's blitz on this issue of slavery, then this mission of democratic progress will be, you know, will be destroyed. now, i should mention that lincoln is a believer in this mission, but not in what was called manifest destiny at the time. th
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nation is to abide by the compromises of the constitution. william lloyd garrison, the abolitionist, burned the constitution saying it is a covenant with the devil because of its clauses relating to slavery. lincoln said, no, even though i oppose slavery with respect to the legal right of the south on the slave, protected in the constitution, we must return their fugitive slaves. much as i hated.
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those new terror. sadness to see fugitives track down and returned, but that is part of the constitution. it is part of the compromises which made the creation of the punitive states possible. lincoln, in the 1850's, like many americans, lincoln cannot really conceive of the united states as a biracial society. he is charged in the 1850's by his democratic opponents with believing in negro equality. this was sort of like the nuclear weapon of politics. communism in the 1950's. if you could accuse someone of that, that would weaken their political position. lincoln says, no, i am not actually in favor of negro equality. he sort of hedges it. on the one hand, yes, but people are entitled to the natural rights of the declaration, life, liberty, and property. everybody is entitled to that. on the other hand he said, as
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for the right to vote, no, i am opposed to that degree come from illinois, as did which is deeply racist, severely discriminatory laws against black people. he shares many of the rachael -- racial prejudices of his day, and he is not really think of the united states as a biracial society. lincoln's solutions to the problem of slavery is he takes it from his -- the two political leaders. thomas jefferson and henry clay. and that is what we call colonization. slaves should be free, but encouraged to leave the country. they should enjoy their natural rights bill but somewhere else. bradley's ten years we can promote this idea of colonization because -- not because he thinks there is anything wrong with black people. racism is so deeply embedded in american life that even if every black people will never be able to achieve equal rights.
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it is simply impossible in this country. now, this, of course, led to much criticism. frederick douglass, the great black abolitionist said, no, this notion of colonization is based on the idea that black people are not genuinely american. what needs to be done is to condemn racism and slavery as well, but lincoln supported those two issues. he said combined against slavery. i'm an agnostic. i neither condemn nor adopted. he did not think debt race was the second political issue as slavery, but during the civil war he will change on this and other issues. much of my book is trying to track down with guns evolution during the civil war. of course it is the evolution of the nation itself, not just one man command of the entire northern population really, by the end of the war. i'm not going to try year to give you all of the steps from the beginning of the war to the
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emancipation of slaves. in the early days of the civil war lincoln actually comes back with this plan, if you want to call it that, he had that before the civil war. that is to say gradual emancipation with compensation, monetary compensation and the colonization of the freed slaves outside the country. early in the work, some people say oh, he is slow. i don't think you so when all. in the fall of 1861 before there has been any significant military combat begin goes to the four border states, the slave states that remained in the union, delaware, maryland, kentucky, and missouri. he brings in the congressman from delaware. delaware only has 1800 slaves. he said, look, we have to get this emancipation thing going. delaware can take the lead. here's the plan.
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it will pay you for your slaves. it will be done gradually. it will make sure you leave. delaware says, no, sorry. we know what your plan. we want to keep our slaves. you don't understand. we are slave owners. some money we want. slavery is the essence of our society. to give up our sleeves would change the entire nature of delaware society. well, delaware, 1800 slaves rejects this rather moderate plan, what is south carolina going to say? alabama and kentucky. so the plant does not go anywhere. it falls apart on one end, but it also falls apart on the other end. but people did not want to leave the country. lincoln has a meeting in 1862 with a group of black leaders and he says to my want to encourage you to leave, you know, to have your people accept this colonization idea. he says your people suffering
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the greatest wrong ever suffered by any people. that is pretty strong. slavery is the greatest wrong ever suffered by any people. but, he says, there is a prejudice against you that will make it impossible for you to achieve equality, whether it is right or wrong. he is now willing to take a position on that. they come back and say, i'm sorry. we are staying here. we are americans. we have as much right to be in this country as you do, and we're going to stay here and struggle. his plan is falling apart at both ends. meanwhile, all sorts of pressures are building up for a change in policy. of just mention a couple of them. one, they are not winning the civil war. by the middle of 1862 the war is still made. fighting the war is army against army is not working. more and more people are saying you have to attack the infrastructure of society. that is slavery. second of all, slavery is
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beginning to fall apart on the periphery. wherever the union army goes swiss are running away to the union lines. you heard mention that the british in the american revolution of for freedom to slaves who came over to their side. this is typical in warfare. you offer freedom to the slaves of the other side to weaken the other side. it happened in the caribbean all the time. lincoln did not say that exactly, but on the other hand he allowed the army not to return their slaves. finally in 86 to two congress forbade the army from sending slaves back who had managed to run away to union lines. so the action of these slaves is putting the question of emancipation on the national agenda. then there is the problem of waning enthusiasm for the war. the beginning of the war people said, nuys and romantic. it will be one big battle.
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walmart often cover ourselves of glory. by 1862 it is pretty clear it is a long, bloody war, not romantic in the slightest, and for the north particularly you need all the manpower you can get. at the beginning of the war they did not allow black people into the army. blacks volunteered. then slaves. more and more people are saying we need to enlist black people. we need this manpower. so all of these things and many others are propelling lincoln toward a different policy. in september 1862 he issues a preliminary emancipation proclamation. of january 1st 1863 the final amounts to mission proclamation. in know, one of the most important turning points in all of american history. and also very misunderstood. people still think that lincoln
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just freed of the slave of the stroke of his pen to know, that is not object to what happened. the proclamation exempted the border states, the four states that were in the union. it did not apply to them. he also exempted certain spare parts of the confederacy which were under union occupation because the only legal justification for the emancipation proclamation was that it was a war measure. he sees it under his power under the constitution as commander in chief of the armed forces. it is a military necessity, he says, that enables them to take this action against slavery. so the proclamation, if you read it, is a rather dull legalistic document. it is a military order. only at the very end to see say it this is issued under military necessity and believed to be an act of justice. active justice. an act of justice is not legal.
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kansas a.m. doing this as an act of justice. there has to be a constitutional basis. nonetheless, despite that the proclamation is a critical turning point for the war and for lincoln and self. what is interesting is how it is completely different from his previous outlook of slavery. it is immediate, not gradual. over 3 million says jeffrey at the moment. it is the role of the army to protect their freedom. secondly, there is no mention of compensation. henceforth southerners will not get money for slaves. there's a legally recognized as property. the property right is liquidated with no monetary payments. finally, lincoln toxicity of colonization. no longer are we talking about blacks leaving the country. in fact, the other different vision emerges because the proclamation for the first time
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authorizes the endless and a black man in the union army, putting them in the army is a very different vision and telling them they have to leave the country. and by the end of the war 200,000 black men have served in the union army and navy. in the last two years of the war after the proclamation lincoln's ideas will begin to change in a remarkable way on these fundamental spirit once the issues a proclamation he won't go back. think of america as a biracial society. once he got the idea of colonization you have to think about the rights that these people are going to enjoy within american society at the end of the war. i think the service of black soldiers is very important. it comes to feel that by fighting and dying for the union they have staked a claim to
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citizenship in the post war world. no, just briefly on what sub mentioned where lincoln in is up just to talk for a
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so lincoln is ahead of the curve in terms of public sentiment by advocating partial suffrage for black men in the postwar south. then there is one of the most remarkable speeches in american history. many of you may be familiar, his second inaugural address march 4th 1865. the lincoln memorial, it is on the wall. let me read you a couple sentences, setting the scene for that inaugural address. on march 4th 1865 lincoln took the oath of office for the second time. the setting itself reflected how much had changed in the past four years. when lincoln delivered his first inaugural address the new capitol dome which replace the original wooden one was only half completed. now the statue of freedom was up there.
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the statue of freedom crowns the finished edifice. symbolizing the reconstitution of the nation on the basis of universal liberty. for the first time in american history companies with black soldiers marched in the inaugural parade. according to one estimate, have the audience that had the dress is black. it must have been very tempting for lincoln to use his inaugural address to review the progress of the war anchoret site himself on the been the victory. instead he delivered a speech in almost unbelievable privity in humility. he began busting there is no need for an extended address for a lever discussion of the progress of arms. he refused to make any prediction as to when the war would end. one week after the inauguration senator thomas beyer of delaware wrote that he had slowly and reluctantly come to understand the wars remote causes. he did not delineate them, but in the second inaugural lincoln
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did. slavery, he stated forthrightly, was the reason for the war. he did not call it seven slavery. he called american slavery. the whole nation, he went on, was complicitous in the crime of slavery. that is why this up to love my book is ever and lincoln, an american slavery. he goes on to say then nobody knows what does well is in this war. we want the war to end, but god may well have brought this war as a punishment to the nation for the evil of slavery. the war will continue until all the wealth piled by the bond manse 250 years of unrequited toil is sunk. there is vestal labor again. 250 years of unrequited toil. may all have to be destroyed to fill the will of god.
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then until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be repaid by another drawn by the sword. every drop of blood drawn by the lash. begin rarely talks about the physical brutality of slavery. he generally talks about it as an abstraction, a question of rights and democracy, but here he is reminding the audience that the terrible violence of the civil war had been preceded by 250 years of the terrible violence of slavery. that is the moral equation that he is asking people to think about. in other words, lincoln is -- he had to sit talked-about compensation to the owners, now implicitly raises the question of compensation to the slaves. maybe not monetary compensation, but more compensation and political compensation. he is asking the country to think about what we hope to the slaves what other requirements
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of justice in the face of that reality? what is necessary to enable these emancipated people, their children, their descendants to enjoy the pursuit of happiness that he had always said they were entitled to but that had been so long denied to them? ", of course within a month or so clinton is killed. he does not live to try to address those profound and difficult questions. in some way these questions of the legacy of slavery and how to actually ensure equality in this country, those questions are still on our society 150 years later. thank you for listening. [applause]
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thank you. we have a little time for questions. let me take the tournament at the mike there. >> i recently heard the claim that ever and lincoln was the only u.s. president that was never a member of an institutional church. why do you think he never joined a church? how seriously do you see him using his obviously fast biblical lawless and applying that slavery? >> okay. i don't know if he was the only president who never joined a church, but it is certainly true that he never -- he attended services with his wife, but he never became a member of the church. lincoln was really a child of the enlightenment and of the era of the revolution. if he had religious use there were more of this kind of diaz kind. most of our founding fathers and thomas paine. that is, you know, god had
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created the world and created the laws of nature. and then he left town. there was no point. an organization of religion was beside the point. he didn't really have this personal notion of jesus christ as savior the way so many americans did. he understood the importance of evangelical religion and a clear days to fix giving, with ministers in new the bible up and down absolutely, but he never had the personal religious faith. why? how can you explain why somebody has religious faith and the person doesn't? during the war he moldova this question of god's will. in the second inaugural it is almost like a sermon. lincoln was a very private man. he did not keep a diary, ride a lot of letters.
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the only way we can gauge his innermost thoughts as to his public statements and his actions. he did not have that deep religious personal sense of commitment that so many americans of his era and our own to. the fact that he could get elected president at that time shows you that we live in a different political world now. adult think we have yet to many candid it's a never joined a church and their whole life. thank you. over at this mike. do we have a question to mac. >> system we do. >> just. >> my question is what george washington's abuse of power. >> speak a little closer to the my. >> my question is george washington and his abuse of his presidential power in regards to slavery. >> george weston. >> george washington used slaves , and he used them in philadelphia even disregarding
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what abraham lincoln was trying to pursue their rig and just wondering if you have any take on george washington's abuse of power in slavery. >> george washington, yes. the first capital of the united states of course was not here but in total fee and a 79 these. philadelphia -- pennsylvania and abolish slavery. you were not allowed to bring slaves into pennsylvania, except for a very briefly to time. a slave owner. he brought slaves. he kept them there. sometimes the shuttle them back and forth to virginia to avoid the law of pennsylvania. one of his slaves escaped into the dry to recover him. you know, washington, like so many of our founders and virginia were slave owners. yet in that sense he is using his power as president to get around the local law
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pennsylvania. it is also true, of course, that unlike thomas jefferson in his well washington provides for the free of all the slaves. one of the very few of the founders you actually freeze all the slaves he can in his will and indeed in the will it is like he underlines it appeared he puts it in bold letters. his trustees are to execute this part of the will first. i don't care if i'm in debt. first to free the slaves and then you do with all the other property. he was very adamant about that. this was the contradiction of the american revolution. you heard one contradiction. the men and women who fought for liberty often were slave owners. lincoln is trying to do with that contradiction a couple of generations later. >> you put forth the proposition that delaware rejected clinton's offer of money because said it
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was fundamental to their society and there will. sorry. plainly absurd. it was five or 6 percent of the economy. so just kind of relating it to the evolution that happened in delaware where they did finally come to agree with lincoln and affected, related to today, we have politicians making pledges. i am wondering of delaware wasn't part of the same political trap. we have to reject lincoln because we made this pledge. >> you're perfectly right. utterly peripheral and delaware. it happens that wherever there is slavery the slave owners dominant the politics. it dominated by slave on as politically even though there was such a tiny part of the population. to the slave owners of delaware as to the rest of the slave owners in the south slavery was essential to their way of life. most of delaware had nothing to
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do with slavery. the slave owners would not consent to is plan of gradual and compensated emancipation. that is the point those trying to make it read to the point is if you can get a state like delaware to abolish slavery voluntarily how are you ever going to get anyone else to do it voluntarily? that is the key problem. >> what you say, this idea of black women in the country, more in favor college you think we look to blacks and for weight? >> i didn't quite -- the questions about this, this idea. exactly is the question? >> the question is do you think -- interesting because the question mostly is to you think we look at blacks and a different way now?
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>> it's an interesting question because if you pick up most books about lincoln -- this is one of the things that actually surprised me. you might say we know everything there is to know about lincoln, and in a certain sense that is true. nobody is ever going to find a big chunk full of documents summer in an attic. look good all this the stuff. no. everything is totally unknown. every letter, every speech. it is all out there. the library of congress. however, i was surprised by some of the things in my research. i was surprised how long went and spoke about this idea of colonization. if you read most books about lincoln you will find that is not mentioned at all or only in a throwaway sentenced to say, oh, well, he could not possibly have believe that this was possible to be jesus said it for political reasons as something like that.
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what is more interesting to me is that lincoln held a said the and then abandoned it and moved some of the position which was that in the 1850's he could not see black people as an intrinsic part of american society. he saw them as an alien people who have been unjustly and violently uprooted from their homeland and transported to the new world. they should enjoy their liberty, but there were not really part of american society. by the end of the work he is seeing them as citizens, participants in reconstruction, a complete change, and i think that is more interesting. much of the industry once likened to be perfect from the beginning. born with a pin in his hand, ready to sign the emancipation proclamation. but that was up the way it was. it's much more interesting how his ideas evolved, how he
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outgrew some of his early prejudices' spirited should not be surprising that a person born in -- not born in illinois, grew up in illinois held those prejudices. that was one of the most racist states and the union at that time. as i say, did he believe this is possible? well, all i can say is he talked about it for ten years as a plausible plan. there were millions of people coming to the united states in the 1850's. so the gestation of people was not so crazy an idea as in a way it may seem to us in retrospect. we may have time for two more questions. let's take one over here. >> as you suggested, slavery was the creator of wealth for many individuals and enterprises. the descendants of which exist today. has anyone tried to investigate this condition, this situation, perhaps, with a view of
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suggesting that these descendants of society? >> well, of course there has been from time to time the issue of reparations for slavery which was sort of up the alley of what you're talking about. you know, people have talked about it. i think it would be utterly impossible to actually work out something like that. as lincoln said, this is a national institution. it was not just the slave owners have benefited from slavery. the city of 11, new york city, its wealth came from slavery at that time. new york had a stranglehold on the cotton trade. new york ships shifted. new york bankers financed it. new york agreement and the ships. you know, new york was totally tied into this for south to read a lot of the wealth went into the north. to try to track of the wealth of slavery would be virtually impossible because it was so widely spread in american society.
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to be the greater issue is not -- as we said to not far from here is the new martin that the king jr. memorial. fifty years ago king stood on the steps of lincoln memorial and delivered his great speech, i have a dream. he began the speech by saying, we are here to cash in the promissory notes, the emancipation proclamation of 100 years. you're right. it has not been fulfilled. he is putting on the question of the issue, how do you actually fulfill the promise of freedom which is to my mind not a question of payment to slavery but a social policy for american life to deal with inequality would still exists in american society. that is really how i would think about it. one more question and then we will call the day. that is not on, don't think, the microphone. >> out you do it? >> given the amount of time that
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lincoln spent thinking about his impending death to messy side, do you find anything that he ever gave any thought to what can the president johnson would be? >> she did think about impending death. he had a dream about his own death and visiting the white house. how did -- beasties me, sir. you know, let me put it this way without mentioning any individual. very often in our political system people are put on the ticket as vice president to run not because of their qualifications to be president, but because they will appeal to some segments of the audience. andrew johnson was put on the ticket 8064 not because anyone wanted him as president, but because he was a southerner, unionist. it bought it would expand the a tour base of the republican party. johnson turned out a month later to be the


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